Patrick Dempsey has been a driving force behind the success of Grey's Anatomy since day one, but the actor hinted that his time on the show could be coming to an end when his current contract expires.
While promoting his new Velocity docuseries, Racing LeMans, at the 2013 Television Critics Association Press Tour in Beverly Hills today, Dempsey repeatedly spoke about the exhaustion and exasperation that stems from playing the same character for more than nine years.
"When you're in a long show, there's less discovery and more of an endurance of having to be present," Dempsey said on the stage. "I'm not necessarily bored with the show, I'm very grateful that I have a show that's on for 10 years, but I'm not the creator, I'm not the writer. We're coming up on 200 episodes, [now] it's about surviving. There's not a lot of homework that goes into it. You try to be present and not get caught acting. I'm grateful I have the gig, but it's not the same thing as being in a racecar."
Dempsey's future with the show came into question last May when he -- along with Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson -- signed new, two-year contracts
. That would carry the group through the end season 10, which premieres September 26.
Although Dempsey was quick to add that his roles on Grey's and on Racing LeMans work in tandem to fulfill both sides of his creative passions. "[Working on a long-running series] doesn't change. In a race, it changes constantly. That, to me, is very exciting and keeps me alive. Then I can go back to work and enjoy it. I think I need both, honestly."
Grey's Anatomy premieres September 26 on ABC, Racing LeMans will air on Velocity.